A team of researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam called attention to the threat of viruses and worms spread through RFID devices with the provocatively titled report: Is Your Cat Infected with a Computer Virus?
"In our research, we have discovered that if certain vulnerabilities exist in the RFID software, an RFID tag can be (intentionall) infected with a virus and this virus can infect the backend database used by the RFID software. From there it can be easily spread to other RFID tags."
Their pet scenario envisions a prankster rewriting his cat’s subdermal pet ID tag with a virus. He then goes to a veterinarian (or the ASPCA), claims it is stray cat and asks for a cat scan – thus infecting the database.
"Unlike a biological virus, which jumps from animal to animal, an RFID virus spread this way jumps from animal to database to animal. The same transmission mechanism that applies to pets also applies to RFID-tagged livestock."
With animals, people, and their possessions (like US passports) getting RFID chipped, this may require a new concept of "personal firewall" and we may need to design new products accordingly.
In the spirit of thinking futuristically, the team is working hard at ideas such as:
- Selling clothing with cooper wire or aluminum foil weaved into the fabric or sell an anti-virus wand that could be used like you see on the spy movies to ‘sweep for bugs’ or airport scanners that detect viruses. "Sorry you’re infected with a virus, you can’t enter the country."
- A new generation of firewall called The Beast Possession and Prevention Shield to appeal to those who think RFID tags are the Mark of The Beast.
- Creating an inoculation worm to prevent/reverse Beast Possession using this vulnerability in The Beast’s malicious code.